There’s a plot hole in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that drives me to distraction, if I think about it too much.
I don’t usually look for plot holes. I have an incredible talent for suspending my disbelief, which is a requirement for any story. Some entertainment junkies are like me, willing to go along with pretty much any plot device. Others, like my husband, can’t enjoy something if it’s not firmly grounded in a consistent reality. In fact, if we see a movie or TV show together, when he questions me about perceived plot holes, I almost always cobble together a fantastic answer, which doesn’t usually satisfy him.
The first time I spotted this giant plot hole in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I had already read it (and the other Harry Potter books) several times. (I lost count.) When I realized it was possible that J.K. Rowling overlooked this problem, the feeling was akin to finding out that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real. I was devastated!
I still worship J.K. Rowling and admire her unbelievable ability to play the long game for even the tiniest details. For instance, the Vanishing Cabinet makes its first appearance in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s referenced again in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Fred and George shoved Montague into a “broken” cabinet. (Peeves dropped it in Chamber of Secrets, hence the state of disrepair.) And, you’ll remember, it played a big part in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was seen again in the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
So how could she have missed this?
As you’ll recall, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black was believed to be a ruthless killer who was out to get Harry. Hogwarts was on high alert. (In the wizarding world, it’s probably something like DEFCON aubergine.) The Ministry of Magic placed Dementors around the perimeter of the school. Dumbledore and the staff increased security measures throughout the castle.
The closest Sirius got to Harry (before Harry made his way to the Shrieking Shack, that is) was the door to Gryffindor tower. The Fat Lady refused him entrance, he shredded her portrait, and she fled to another painting. Of course, all this was discovered after the fact, when Sirius was already gone.
Now, jump ahead to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. At this point, Sirius escaped capture and was hiding out in a cave near Hogsmeade. He and Harry were on wonderful terms, after Harry found out that Peter Pettigrew was the one who had betrayed his parents, and that Sirius was Harry’s godfather. The two of them corresponded frequently through Owl Post.
But remember what happened when Sirius was so distraught over Harry’s latest missive that he absolutely needed to talk to Harry? Hm? Do you remember?
He appeared in the fireplace of Gryffindor common room and spoke to Harry.
Why the hell didn’t he do that in Prisoner of Azkaban? He could have waited until Harry was alone in the common room, or with Ron and Hermione, popped up and said, “Don’t be alarmed. It’s just me, your godfather, Sirius. Guess what? I wasn’t the one who betrayed your parents. It was that dirty, stinking rat who’s sitting on Ron’s lap!” To take it one step further, he could have just used the Floo Network to get his whole body into Gryffindor tower!
Before you say, “Wait, Nancy, he couldn’t have just popped into the fire for a chat. Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and the rest of the staff had protections in place.” To that I say, bollocks! Because, remember, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, he continued to talk to Harry through the fireplace, even after Umbridge put the Floo Network under surveillance. It wasn’t until Umbridge’s fat, stubby hand reached into the fire to grab him that Sirius decided that the fireplace method of communication wasn’t terribly safe, after all.
And before you say, “Here, now, have a care. He was on the run. He didn’t have a fireplace handy,” I say bollocks to that too. He specifically said in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that he broke into a wizard’s house to use their fireplace.
So, ha! I would give my eye teeth to be able to ask J.K. Rowling about that. She has answered plenty of other fans when they’ve pointed out discrepancies — or what they thought were discrepancies, only to have Jo explain it all away. I would love to hear exactly why Sirius Black didn’t use the Floo Network in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
THAT is the one plot hole in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that drives me crazy.
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